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Food and Drink round-up 10/02/2011

Ithaca site to re-open, Grado dies, Booths on the way, K2 nonsense and Juan is the man

Published on February 11th 2011.

Food and Drink round-up 10/02/2011

Grado dies...and is reborn
Grado is to wither on its Spanish vine. The restaurant on New York Street, now owned by Living Ventures, “never connected with the market” according to boss Tim Bacon. “I thought it would work well, and I was enjoying the idea of adding a quality Spanish place to our collection of restaurants. But it’s not making any money. I don’t think people understand the concept and if I take the prices down then it would become another budget tapas bar and I don’t want that. So we’re renaming it Grill on New York Street, and it will operate like Grill on the Alley. We’re hoping that that part of town will respond to the change.”

At Confidential we liked Grado and single-handledly tried to keep it afloat via drinks sales when we were in our former office in the Northern Quarter. Yet it was never full, so Bacon’s decision is understandable.

The Killer Door of Spinningfields
When Alchemist bar opened in Spinningfields (click here) we liked it immediately. So did everybody else, it’s usually full everyday. We loved the door too. We loved it because it was the heaviest thing in Manchester. Closed and locked it could have rebuffed a full medieval army for months. Some people struggled so much to open it they gave up, went to Pret a Manger opposite, and over a far too expensive sandwich, wept with frustration. Then this Monday it was windy and the door got frisky. It managed to put a manager and a repair man in hospital as it lurched too and fro – they weren’t seriously injured thankfully. For those of us who miss it though, the door will be back with an easier opening mechanism.

Greening for Australasia
Meanwhile Living Ventures have also revealed the chef for their fine dining restaurant opening this summer. The kitchens at Australasia, which sits under Armani in Spinningfields, will be bossed by Paul Greening. This fella was the Young Australian Chef of Year in 2004, and has worked at a number of top restaurants. He has copious experience with Pacific food varieties and will deliver a Japanese lightness of touch to the menu. The glass canopy entrance of Australia is now in place just off Deansgate.

Beech Road fiesta
Bar San Juan is now open on Beech Road. After the problems over the licence when it was Bar Lorenzo, it’s currently booze-free. That will change next week when the owner, called Juan funnily enough, gets the licence back. Juan assures Confidential there won’t be any more late night loud music shenanigans of the type that saw off Bar Lorenzo - the new place will simply try to re-create a classic Spanish neighbourhood bar.

K2 – it’s another country
Sleuth and Grouch and some ladies tried to get into K2 recently in Chinatown (click here). Bouncers appeared from nowhere. “You need a passport to get in, and a driver’s licence,” they said. It was a Wednesday night. Sleuth said, “one of the fundamental British liberties is that we don’t have to carry ID cards.” He then gave the bouncers a lecture on the Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus and the 1688 Bill of Rights. He showed the bouncers a picture of Winston Churchill. No joy. A passport is needed to drink, snack and sing karaoke at the very least they said. Grouch said, “It’s easier to get into China than into K2.”

Ithaca becomes Vertigo
Ithaca is to re-open. The ill-fated venue on John Dalton Street is under new management and will be called Vertigo. Given that Ithaca suffered a dramatic fall from grace, calling the place after that affliction doesn’t seem the wisest move. Will post more details when we get them.

Better coffee for students
Manchester University is taking on the big coffee chains through its 30-strong ‘Food On Campus’ network of outlets. The cafes turnover £5m a year for the university but are relatively hidden from passers-by, but the Uni plans to raise awareness of its eateries. There are five cafes near Piccadilly Railway Station and five on Oxford Road, with more across the city, including the cafe at John Rylands Library on Deansgate. General Manager of Food on Campus Alison Aucott said: “The university cafes beat the mainstream chains on price; all the coffee is Fairtrade, all the water is ‘One Water’. Given the number of international students, the outlets can cater for a variety of different dietary requirements as well.”

Posh nosh for luvvies...
Work on the new Booths supermarket at MediaCity on Salford Quays is set to start after the two sides exchanged contracts. Booths will occupy the two floors below MediaCity’s multi storey car park, offering a range of locally-sourced produce. The chain is the oldest family-owned and run grocery business in Britain, with 26 stores across the UK. Its 23,000 sq ft store will be the first food shop at the new Peel development. The official opening is expected in the autumn. Costa Coffee will open later this year. And from what we hear, plans are still afoot for a Wetherspoons.

One in Vermilion
Black cod and Snowfish mingle with the more familiar scallops and rock lobster in Vermilion’s new ‘Taste of the Sea’ evenings starting on Thursday February 10. First achieving stellar status at London fusion restaurant Nobu, black cod was last seen on a plate in Manchester at the now closed Ithaca (see previous story). Now, every Thursday Vermilion, on Hulme Hall Lane near SportCity in Ancoats, will serve up two special seafood menus. For £49 a head you get a four course dinner with black cod and other starters and mains to share, accompanied by a glass of Moet & Chandon Brut. The other menu features snowfish, sort of like wild sea bass, and comes on the Taste of the Sea Menu. This four-course feast costs just £29 per person and includes a complimentary glass of Moet Brut Champagne. To book ring 0161 202 0055.

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9 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Andrew StevensonFebruary 10th 2011.

I agree on Grado. Despite the occasional slightly ropey tapas dish at the bar, I liked the food, liked the concept and liked the style. It was also the only one of Paul Heathcote's restaurants that could manage a really good espresso.
But it's no surprise Living Ventures have lost patience. They're quite right about people not understanding it.

Kevin TilleyFebruary 10th 2011.

Wow, that glass entrance will take you all the way to Australia? And I thought it was just going to the fine dining establishment...

GJHFebruary 10th 2011.

A bit gutted re Grado, loved the chips & most things about the place. Was going to book for my b'day. Very sadly missed.

citydwellerFebruary 10th 2011.

K2. What short memories you have Mancon, and you supposed to be ear to ground an' all.


So licence revocation and new rules came in. Comprende?

John HarrisFebruary 10th 2011.

I'm not sure the licensing authorities can impose that kind of restriction, and if they can it's pretty worrying.

EditorialFebruary 10th 2011.

Citydweller...eh...run that one past us again

J E SibberingFebruary 10th 2011.

You missed out that not only is Booths the oldest family-owned and run grocery business in Britain, but it's also local.

It was founded within our fair county of Lancashire, in 1847.

My mum used to take me into the fabulous cafe above the shop in Preston.

If ours looks like this inside I'll be well happy!

Ali McGowanFebruary 28th 2011.

Bugger. I had an amazing meal on Saturday at Grado :(

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